Sakai 2.8 Upgrade

Sakai logoThis summer Pomona College’s Sakai administrators will be upgrading The Claremont Colleges’ Sakai server to version 2.8. We’ve been running version 2.7 for several years so we’re looking forward to the bug fixes and new tools that will be available in version 2.8. The Sakai Administration Team (SAT) will be testing the new version on a test server during May and June. The upgrade will take place in early August after summer classes are over.

New tools include a tool called Blogs which will replace the discontinued Blogger tool. The old Blogger tool will no longer be available. Faculty and staff who have old sites with the Blogger tool will no longer be able to access that tool after the upgrade. CIS will be providing documentation on how to export text from the old tool before the upgrade. The new tool is quite similar to the old one and has a very simple and easy to use interface.

The Sakai Administration Team has also decided to add Gradebook2, an alternative to the regular Gradebook tool. The original Gradebook tool will not be going away but will run in tandem with the new tool. Gradebook2 was developed at UC Davis and is similar to Gradebook with some significant new functionality (extra credit items and categories, drop lowest grade item, grade item weighting, excuse individual grade record, etc.) along with some improvements to the user interface.

Profile2 will also been be added when we upgrade to Sakai 2.8. It replaces the old Profile tool in My Workspace. It adds some social networking features and allows users to upload photos of themselves and create more detailed profiles. Users can also create social networks with other Sakai users and send personal messages.

Another new tool is Lessons. Lessons was developed by Rutgers University and is used to structure course content in a sequential or hierarchical manner. Instructors can use the tool to create lessons organized by week or by topic and can link to other Sakai tools like Assignments, Forums, and Tests & Quizzes. Instructors can also allow students to create their own Lessons page and can insert rubrics for peer review. It looks like an exciting new tool that can provide a very different, less tool-centric way of using Sakai.

We’ll be offering workshops on these new tools later this summer so stay posted!

The full list of tools that are being retired includes:

  • Blogger
  • Linker Tool
  • Reports
  • Timeline
  • Evaluation System
  • Modules

The Blogger and Linker Tools are being discontinued by Sakai. The other tools have been available for quite a while and are still available, but SAT has decided to remove them because they are not being used. The only tool that has been used in the past is the Blogger tool, which is being replaced by Blogs. As mentioned above, we will be working with faculty and staff to export any data they have in the Blogger tool since it will not be available once we upgrade.

If you read my news item on the Open Apereo 2013 conference, then you many be wondering why we aren’t upgrading directly to Sakai 2.9. Sakai 2.9 is getting very good reviews and many of the presenters urged institutions to upgrade sooner rather than later. However, after our rather difficult upgrade to Sakai 2.7 a few years ago, the Sakai Administration Team made an informal vow to be more circumspect about upgrading to versions of Sakai that had not been out very long. But there were several other members of SAT at the conference so I expect that we will discuss this option again.

Open Apereo (Sakai) 2013 Conference

Apereo LogoThis week I was in San Diego attending the Open Apereo 2013 Conference in San Diego. Apereo is the new name for the open source community that combines the Sakai and Jasig communities. Jasig is a community that develops open source academic software such as uPortal, CAS (Central Authentication Service) and Bedework (an enterprise calendar system). Last year both organizations voted to combine into a single open source organization called Apereo. The name is a combination of community suggestions, and represents the fusion of two Latin words, “aperto”, which means “open” and “mereo”, meaning merit.

This year’s conference showed a renewed enthusiasm in development on the original Sakai CLE (Collaborative Learning Environment) system. Sakai 2.9 was released to the community recently and has been getting great reviews. With a new, more modern user interface and several new core tools, Sakai 2.9 has been a shot in the arm to the community.

Many of the sessions I attended focused on how institutions have integrated Sakai with other 3rd party tools they are using. The University of Michigan gave a particularly impressive presentation on their Sakai integration of Google Apps for Education. The University of South Alabama gave an overview of the different methods they’ve used to integrate a wide variety of tools including BigBlueButton, Foliotek, ePortfolio, iClicker, Media Gallery, MyMathLabs, ProctorU, Scantron Class Climate, Smarthinking, Turnitin, and iRubric. I also attended several presentations on interesting usage scenarios that other institutions have designed within their instance of Sakai. The University of Virginia uses Sakai’s site template feature in very creative ways for example. When we upgrade Sakai this summer we will have access to two big new tools—Gradebook2 and Lessons—and I attended several sessions devoted to those tools. You can read more about our Sakai upgrade in another news post.

Development on Sakai OAE, now known as Apereo OAE, progresses with support from Marist College, the University of Cambridge, and Georgia Tech. OAE has had a rocky history. Originally envisioned as Sakai 3, a replacement to the original CLE system, the developers quickly realized that rewriting all of the code behind the CLE tools was logistically impossible. They then thought the two systems could run in tandem, in so-called hybrid mode. Last year we saw a real upheaval in the development process with complaints of severe performance problems and the withdrawal of two of the major contributors, the University of Michigan and Indiana University. (Both are still continuing with their development support for Sakai CLE.)

Development of OAE continues, but with a scaled-back focus. The developers pretty much started from scratch in order to fix the performance problems and have decided to abandon the hybrid mode idea. OAE is now designed to run completely separately from Sakai CLE. Sakai CLE will continue to provide the course management tools while OAE will focus on providing an open, permeable collaborative environment, similar to what we already have access to with Google Apps for Education.

Many of the conference sessions were recorded using Google+ Hangouts and published to a YouTube channel. You can find them at http://www.youtube.com/apereo if you are interested in learning more about the topics I’ve mentioned. The conference also used a conference schedule system called Lanyrd, which I really liked. So you can find the full conference schedule with links to presentation materials at http://lanyrd.com/2013/apereo.

Lecture Capture in the Teaching and Learning Building

Mediasite LogoOver the past two years CIS has been conducting a pilot of lecture capture in the Learning Studio Classroom.  “Lecture capture” refers to the ability to record audio and video of the presenter as well as the presenter’s display (including Powerpoint slides, images from a document camera or other device). James Sadler developed the scheduling system used in our pilot, which has been very successful as a proof of concept. We were primarily focused on finding out whether faculty were interested in using such a service and what they would use it for. Several faculty have participated in the pilot including Rachel Levy, Z Sweedyk, Michael Erlinger, Francis Su and Michael Orrison. One of the usage scenarios that quickly emerged was recording student presentations so that students could view them and study their performance.

Our home-grown system has the ability to schedule recordings and uses a webcam to record the video and audio of the presenter. A video splitter and Wirecast software takes care of recording the presenter’s display and creating a screen-in-screen recording of the video, audio and video display. What the home-grown system lacks is a back end system where the recordings can be automatically stored and distributed. The system was also not always as reliable as we had hoped.

Last year we began looking at commercial systems that provide lecture capture and video streaming. We looked at a variety of systems such as Panopto, Mediasite, and Echo360.  We ran a pilot of Kaltura last Spring.  Eventually, we focused on the main market competitors: Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite and Echo360.  Both have very similar capabilities and features. Last month we decided to purchase Mediasite for installation in the new Teaching and Learning Building. We purchased three Mediasite recorders and have contracted for three years of their hosting service. Two of the recorders will be installed in the lecture hall control booth and will be able to record from the main Lecture Hall, the Recital Hall, 85-person classroom, the two technology-rich classrooms on the second floor (rooms 2450 and 2454) as well as an additional 50-person classroom on the second floor. We also purchased a mobile recorder that can be moved to other classrooms for recording.

The Mediasite recorders include scheduling software for hands-free recording.  It can be used to set things up so that recording starts automatically when the class starts.  The completed recording uploads automatically to Mediasite’s web site. Faculty can embed a playlist in their Sakai course site so that new recordings are automatically available to students.

The Mediasite recorders also have the capability to do live streaming over the web. In addition to these features, faculty also have access to extensive analytics about which students are viewing what videos when. Faculty can even see graphics that analyze which presentation segments are viewed most often. Faculty can also add interactive features like polls and the ability to ask questions to their recordings.

We’re looking forward to working with faculty to explore how they can use Mediasite in their classes. We plan on giving Mediasite training to interested faculty starting this summer and fall. If you’d like to learn more about lecture capture in the TLB feel free to contact us: helpdesk@hmc.edu or (909) 607 7777.

 

Spring Break Audiovisual Renovations

Teaching StationOver Spring Break the Audiovisual staff will be working with Facilities and Maintenance and our vendor DJL to implement several renovation projects. In the Beckman Auditorium, Beckman B126, we will be installing a new main screen to replace the rear projection screen. We will also be installing a new video projector in the ceiling. We will be removing the old podium and putting in a new teaching station like the one chosen for use in the new Teaching and Learning Building. The audio equipment and DVD/VCR player will be installed into the new teaching station.

In the Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons we will be installing additional audio speakers to improve the sound quality on the west side of the dining hall during events held in the main dining hall.

We’ve also been working on some colorful instruction sheets to be installed in the Green Room, the Aviation Room, and other rooms to make it easier to use the control systems and audiovisual equipment in those rooms. Those should be installed over Spring Break as well.

MathWorks MATLAB Seminar at HMC for The Claremont Colleges

matlab_logo_smallWe are excited to announce a free half-day MathWork Seminar at Harvey Mudd College for The Claremont Colleges. Please join us on Friday, March 8th from noon to 4:00 pm in Math Seminar Room on the 3rd floor of Sprague. A light lunch will be provided. Seats are limited, so please register online at http://www.mathworks.com/HMC2013. Details below.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Technical Computing with MATLAB at Harvey Mudd College
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—Register now—
Register at http://www.mathworks.com/HMC2013

—Agenda—
Presenter: Saket Kharsikar, Application Engineer
12:00 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. Registration and Lunch
12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. What’s new in 2012b?

Highlights include:
• New MATLAB Desktop
• Packaging and Installing MATLAB Apps
• Redesigning help
• Import tool enhancements for text files

1:15 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. Break

1:40 p.m. – 3:40 p.m. Mathematical Modeling with MATLAB
Mathematical models are critical to understanding and accurately simulating the behavior of complex systems. They enable important tasks such as forecasting system behavior for various “what if” scenarios, characterizing system response, and designing control systems.

This session will show how you can use MATLAB products for mathematical modeling tasks, including:

• Developing models using data fitting and first-principle modeling techniques
• Optimizing the accuracy of mathematical models
• Simulating models and post-processing the results
• Documenting and sharing models

You will also learn about different approaches you can use to develop models, including developing models programmatically using the MATLAB language, deriving closed-form analytical equations using symbolic computation, and leveraging prebuilt graphical tools for specific modeling tasks such as curve and surface fitting.

Q&A 3:40 p.m. -4:00 p.m.

—Register now—
Register at http://www.mathworks.com/HMC2013

Take a book, leave a book

Last month the CIS management team met with our student staff to gather feedback about our services. One of the ideas that came out of the meeting waHuge_pile_of_bookss to start a “Take a Book/Leave a Book” lending library in the Learning Studio so that students could have access to books to browse and read (and our bookshelves wouldn’t look so lonely and empty). We all thought it was a great idea so we’ve gone ahead and started it up. It’s located in the Learning Studio on the ground floor of Sprague on the shelves behind the elevator.

Now it’s up to you! Stop on by to browse for a book to read or to contribute your own gently-used books. It’s open to students, faculty and staff and both fiction and non-fiction books are welcome.

Spring 2013 Schedule for A Bite of Learning

Bite of Learning logoThe schedule for the Spring 2013 A Bite of Learning series has been finalized. We’re looking forward to a great series of talks by speakers both from HMC and from outside the campus. For example, Jane Manning, Manager of Online Course Production and Platforms from the Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning at Stanford University, has agreed to reprise her excellent presentation on MOOCs from the Saddle Rock Board of Trustees retreat. Liam Robinson (HMC ’06), Kenneth Asare will be presenting on a start-up project they co-founded called Study-Date.com. Henry Neeman, Director of the OU Supercomputing Center for Education & Research at the University of Oklahoma, will be speaking on “Supercomputing in Plain English.”

Sara Lowe from Honnold/Mudd Library will be presenting results from a 2012 student survey on student perceptions of technology and the library. We’re also looking forward to Paul Steinberg (Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts) bringing us up to date on the progress of his Social Rules project. Nancy Lape (Mathematics) and Darryl Yong (Mathematics), along with their co-researchers Karl Haushalter (Chemistry), Rachel Levy (Mathematics), and Jacqueline Dresch (Mathematics), will be presenting on their experiments with the flipped classroom model at HMC. Nancy and Darryl also presented at the Saddle Rock retreat and their presentation generated a great deal of discussion.

You can find the full schedule of presentations on our web site at http://www.hmc.edu/bol/. We’ve also begun posting videos of the presentations from the Fall 2012 series so if you missed a presentation please check our web site. We’d love to hear your feedback too. You can fill out our feedback survey at http://www.hmc.edu/bol-feedback.

And if you haven’t liked us on Facebook yet, please do so at http://www.facebook.com/ABiteOfLearning.

Recent Changes to Sakai at The Claremont Colleges

Sakai logoOur new Sakai administrator at Pomona, Sanghyun Jeon, has gotten off to a roaring start. After familiarizing herself with The Claremont Colleges’ installation of Sakai and with our policies and procedures, she has begun working on the long list of fixes and new features that the Sakai Administration Team has been compiling.

One important change affects the behavior of the add/drop scripts that synchronize Sakai with the student information system. In the past students who had been inactivated in a course because they had dropped it or because they were added to the site before officially registering for the course, would not be automatically re-activated when they re-added the course or officially registered. That behavior has been changed. Students will now be automatically re-activated when they re-add a course or officially register for the course in the student information system. This should result in a lot less frustration for students and faculty and the CIS Help Desk alike!

Two of the most important bug fixes are fixes to the Manage Groups and the Section Info tool. The Manage Groups tool is used to create ad-hoc groups of participants and is located in the Site Info tool of each site. It had a bug that caused it to generate an error when one of the participants in the site was inactive. The only work-around was to delete all inactive users. This bug has now been fixed and inactive participants in a site will no longer cause the Manage Groups tool to generate an error.

The Section Info tool is very similar to Manage Groups, but has the useful feature of being able to assign Teaching Assistants to individual sections. At HMC it’s been a useful tool for ubercourse sites where the instructors wanted a combined course site for all of the sections of their course, but still wanted to be able to grade by individual sections. This tool has been broken since we upgraded to Sakai 2.7. This tool has also been fixed and no longer crashes when a user tries to create a Sakai section.

A new feature that has been implemented is the Check Quota tool in the Sakai Resources tool. Site Instructors and Maintainers can now check how much of their site quota they have used. Users who have Maintain or Instructor role in a site can go to the Resources tool and click “Check Quota” to find out how much of their quota they have used. The default quota for a Sakai site is 2GB. This amount can be increased if needed.

We’ll keep you posted as new bug fixes and changes are implemented.

 

 

Essential MATLAB Seminar for Beginners and Refreshers

CIS will hold two MATLAB seminar sessions for MATLAB beginners and refreshers this week. Please come join us to learn something new and refresh your memory on your journey to mastering MATLAB.

When:

  • Session 1: 4:15 pm – 5:15 pm on Thursday, September 20, 2012
  • Session 2: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm on Friday, September 21, 2012

Where:

  • Session 1: Sprague Math Seminar Room (3rd floor)
  • Session 2: Sprague Learning Studio Classroom

Agenda:

  • The Basics of MATLAB Computing Environment — get to know about the MATLAB desktop environment.
  • M-files — learn the basics of MATLAB scripts and functions.
  • Data Import/Export — learn how to import external data and export MATLAB data.
  • Basic Plot — draw basic 2d plots and learn simple manipulation techniques.
  • The MATLAB Editor — know how to use the MATLAB editor for easier programming.
  • Publication — learn how to comment your MATLAB codes for publication.

 

Fall 2012 Bite of Learning Schedule

The schedule for the Fall 2012 Bite of Learning series has been finalized. We’ve got an exciting series of presentations lined up this fall. You can see the entire schedule on the Bite of Learning web site at http://www.hmc.edu/bol, but here’s a sneak preview. You can look forward to sessions on the use of Piazza to answer student questions by Chris Stone in the CS department, an introduction to the field of Digital Humanities by Jacqueline Wernimont from Scripps, and exploring your musical creativity with software called Impro-Visor by Bob Keller in CS. The ETMS staff will also be presenting this Fall. Jeho Park will talk about the XSEDE high performance computing resource. James Sadler will talk about our experiments with lecture capture software and hardware this past year, and I’ll be demonstrating a Google Apps tool called Appointment Slots for making office hours appointments. However, I expect our most popular presentation this semester will be a presentation by Matt Construction on using computer modeling in building construction. I’ve been promised a 3-D fly-through of the new TLB building. So keep your eye out for our Bite of Learning announcements and hope to see you there!

We’ve also got a brand new Facebook page for the series at http://www.facebook.com/ABiteOfLearning/. We’ll be posting announcements there as well as photos and videos. We’re also hoping to be able to continue some of the great discussions that we have at the end of our presentations there. So please “Like” us on Facebook!